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‘Robben Island goes solar’

Cape Town, South Africa - January 8, 2011: Entrance to Robben Island


An island with a dark past is embracing a bright future with solar energy.

The infamous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela – and many others – were held as prisoners, is proving that change is possible. Thanks to a micro-grid project initiated by South Africa’s Department of Tourism, it is shifting from diesel-powered generators to solar panels.

SOLA Future Energy is the company that designed and constructed the near 2000 solar panels and battery storage system that will meet the island’s energy needs for at least nine months of the year.

“The micro-grid on Robben Island is the largest combined solar and lithium-ion storage microgrid system in South Africa,” said Dom Wills, CEO of SOLA Future Energy, said in a statement.“For Robben Island, the solar micro-grid will reduce its fossil fuel consumption by 235 000 litres of diesel per annum or 50% of previous usage. This will result in a reduction the Island’s carbon emissions by 820 tons, as well as a monetary saving. The system will last for 25 years, and will be paid off in 7 years.”

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